Healthcare News & Insights

2 unique stress busters to keep nurses focused, calm

To help them manage their stress, some nurses are turning to two unique methods — mindfulness and chaos theory. 

ThinkstockPhotos-177875969Nursing and stress tend to go hand-in-hand, which can be dangerous for both nurses and patients.

Research has shown that high levels of stress can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and other medical issues for nurses. Stress has also been shown to impact nurses decision making and response time, which can pose a threat to patients’ safety.

Hospitals have to help their nurses manage their stress, but it’s not always as simple as giving them an extra vacation day.

That’s why some in the healthcare industry are now turning to some unexpected stress busters.

Using ‘chaos’ to stay calm

One method comes from Elena Capella, an assistant professor and director of the online Master in Nursing program at the School of Nursing and Health Professions in San Francisco, as The Huffington Post reports.

Capella teaches students in the program about Chaos Theory and self-reflection to help them cope with the intensity of working in emergency rooms and other tough situations.

Chaos Theory is a concept that deals with complex systems which can be unpredictable and constantly changing. Capella believes it can also be applied to the healthcare industry.

“We try and be organized and directed in our approach … we have all this standardization, but you’re dealing with people, and people introduce all sorts of complexities to the picture,” said Capella. She notes that issues with care coordination or miscommunications can make nurses work environment chaotic.

By teaching nurses Chaos Theory and other relaxation techniques, Cappela shows them chaos is a normal part of the job and equips them with skills to keep a level head and redirect people toward a positive outcome during frantic situations.

Mindfulness to reduce stress

Another stress buster more nurses are turning to is “mindfulness,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Katie Hammond Holtz, a psychologist in the Pittsburgh area, leads a mindfulness retreat for nurses sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing.

Originally a concept from Buddhism, mindfulness is a simple form of meditation where a person takes a moment to focus on their breathing and other senses.

The technique has become a popular way to reduce stress and anxiety for the military, athletes and many corporate CEOs, and Holtz believes it can be equally beneficial for healthcare workers.

Studies have shown that nurses who practice mindfulness cope better with stress and are less likely to experience burnout, which has lead to improved patient care and satisfaction.

Nurse burnout is a common problem across the country and not likely to go away anytime soon. As a result, hospital leaders will need to find different way to help their nurses manage stress.

For some that may mean giving nurses the opportunity to learn relaxation skills like mindfulness training. For others, it may mean getting a little more creative, such as the University of Pennsylvania Hospital’s “Pet a Pooch” program, which helps providers reduce stress by bringing in pets for workers to spend time with on their lunch breack

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